Reading Fun for Parents and Kids: A New Take on Peter Pan

(DGIwire) — Summer is a great time for kids to take a break from school, get outside and let their imaginations run wild, but it is also important that they continue to read in preparation for the coming school year. Good books for summer reading challenge young readers with new words and ideas, but also engage the imagination and take kids on fantastical adventures. One such book is the classic fantasy novel we’re all familiar with: Peter Pan. Filled with pirates, fairies and boys who never grow up, Peter Pan is both engaging and educational, and a great choice for parents to dust off and share with their children.

And once they’ve read this classic tale, kids ages 10 and up (and their parents) will be ready to dive into Peter Pan’s new retelling, Hook’s Tale, the debut novel by award-winning playwright and screenwriter John Leonard Pielmeier, whose successful plays, television movies and miniseries include Agnes of God, Gifted Hands, Choices of the Heart and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

“Like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, my novel Hook’s Tale offers a radical new version of a classic story, bringing readers into a much richer, darker and enchanting version of Neverland than ever before,” Pielmeier says. “Set in the world of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, it explores the childhood of the much-maligned Captain Hook: his quest for buried treasure, his friendship with Peter Pan and the story behind the swashbuckling world of Neverland.”

As we learn in these pages, Captain James Cook (a/k/a Hook)—long defamed as a vicious pirate—was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining and entirely truthful memoir. His chronicle offers a counter-narrative to the works of Barrie, a “dour Scotsman” whose spurious accounts got it all wrong. Now Pielmeier is proud to present this crucial historic artifact in its entirety for the first time to kids ages 10 and up.
Pielmeier began his career with the play and movie Agnes of God. Since then he has had three more plays mounted on Broadway and more than 25 films, television movies and miniseries produced. Most recently he has written and acted in the internationally successful limited series The Pillars of the Earth (named the 5th Best Miniseries of All Time!) and is currently prepping his stage adaptation of The Exorcist for its West End premiere in late autumn 2017. (It recently played in Birmingham, England to glorious reviews and enthusiastic standing ovations.) He has also received the Humanitas Award (plus two nominations), five Writers’ Guild Award nominations, a Gemini nomination, an Edgar Award, the Camie Award, a Christopher Award, and his projects have won a Gemini Award and been nominated for the Emmy Award (three times) and the Golden Globe Award.

Pielmeier was struck by the idea for Hook’s Tale while visiting Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile. As he stopped to catch his breath on a long hike, Pielmeier realized that this very island, as described by Daniel Defoe, was likely the model for J.M. Barrie’s Neverland. Gazing around at the scenery, Pielmeier began to wonder: what other islands lie near Neverland? How did Captain Hook get there in the first place? Resolving to explore such tantalizing questions, Pielmeier crafted an entertaining yet nuanced tale laced with echoes of Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the structural signatures of a classic Victorian bildungsroman.

“I’m confident parents and children will enjoy Hook’s Tale as much as I had fun writing it,” Pielmeier adds.